Arms and the Man

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Louka is an opinionated, beautiful young servant working for the Petkoffs . She is expected to settle down with and marry Nicola, the family’s head servant. However, she rejects the idea that her being born into a poorer family means she must live as servant to the rich her whole life. At first she rejects Sergius’s advances believing he is simply using her because he thinks she is beneath him. When she realizes Sergius disdains his own wealth and “nobility” she admits she has fallen for him.

Louka Quotes in Arms and the Man

The Arms and the Man quotes below are all either spoken by Louka or refer to Louka. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Identity, Authenticity, and Self-Expression Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of Arms and the Man published in 1990.
Act 2 Quotes

She is so grand that she never dreams that any servant could dare to be disrespectful to her; but if she once suspects that you are defying her, out you go.

Related Characters: Nicola (speaker), Louka, Catherine Petkoff
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

In the garden of the Petkoff's house, Nicola, an older manservant, is chastizing Louka for her bad manners. Nicola has admitted that Catherine Petkoff is so snooty that she probably doesn't even realize Louka is behaving disrespectfully, but if Catherine were to ever realize this, Louka would be fired immediately. Nicola's words reveal the complex social dynamics between servants and their employers. According to him, Catherine's elitist arrogance makes her naïve; she thinks so little of servants that she cannot imagine they might defy her. This is a powerful concept in light of the fact that this play was written in the midst of severe class tensions, and shortly before the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. Nicola's words suggest that the rich have blinded themselves to the realities of life with their privilege, but this blindness cannot last forever.

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You have the soul of a servant, Nicola.
Yes: that’s the secret of success in service.

Related Characters: Louka (speaker), Nicola (speaker)
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

Nicola has warned Louka about being disrespectful to Catherine, claiming that if Louka continues along this path she will be fired, but Louka is dismissive of Nicolai's warnings. Both servants have revealed they know important secrets about the Petkoffs, but Louka remains disdainful of Nicola's loyalty to the family. She tells him he has "the soul of a servant." Louka's harsh words reveal her resentment of her lot in life; despite the rigid class system in which she was born, Louka considers herself equal to the family she serves. In fact, the idea that anyone would not see themselves as equal to others is abhorrent to her, as is conveyed by her harsh remarks to Nicola. For Louka, being a servant should never be the defining aspect of one's identity.

Act 3 Quotes

How easy it is to talk! Men never seem to me to grow up: they all have schoolboy’s ideas. You don’t know what true courage is…I would marry the man I loved, which no other queen in Europe has the courage to do...You dare not: you would marry a rich man’s daughter because you would be afraid of what other people would say of you.

Related Characters: Louka (speaker), Major Sergius Saranoff
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

Nicola has offered Louka some of the money Sergius gave him, but she has refused, telling him that he is more of a servant than a husband. Nicola leaves, and Sergius enters. Louka questions whether Sergius is actually courageous; when Sergius insists that he is, Louka responds by telling him "you don't know what true courage is," because he is choosing to marry "a rich man's daughter" rather than Louka, the woman he loves. Here Louka emphasizes her resolutely principled attitude to the world, suggesting that she is the moral centre of the play. Although she loves Sergius, she does not speak to him with the over-the-top romantic words of Raina. Rather, she addresses him harshly, holding him to account for his hypocritical behavior. 

This passage also contains an important claim about the true nature of courage. According to the traditional, romantic ideals that characterize the society depicted in the play, courage consists of masculine, patriotic acts, such as boldly fighting for one's country. Louka, however, suggests that these are "schoolboy's ideas," and that real courage consists of daring to live and love honestly, committing oneself to the principle that all people are equal, and not adjusting one's behavior to the expectations of others. 

The world is not such an innocent place as we used to think.

Related Characters: Major Sergius Saranoff (speaker), Raina Petkoff, Louka
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

Sergius, Bluntschli, Raina, and Louka have slowly revealed their secrets to one another. Major Petkoff enters, and everyone tries to pretend that everything is normal. However, when Raina tries to steal the portrait from Major Petkoff's jacket pocket, he reveals that he has already seen it, and asks if she regularly sends "photographic souvenirs to other men." Sergius replies that "the world is not such an innocent place as we used to think." These words confirm the idea that Sergius and Raina were indeed a "couple of grown-up babies," caught up in childish fantasies that obscured the true nature of reality. As Sergius's statement suggests, honesty is the only way to destroy these illusions, which may appear "innocent" but which in fact consist of false performances and deceit.

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Louka Character Timeline in Arms and the Man

The timeline below shows where the character Louka appears in Arms and the Man. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Romanticism / Idealism vs. Realism Theme Icon
Class Divisions Theme Icon
Youth vs. Maturity Theme Icon
Louka interrupts them, a young and pretty servant girl who is clearly defiant, and whose demeanor... (full context)
Identity, Authenticity, and Self-Expression Theme Icon
Romanticism / Idealism vs. Realism Theme Icon
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Heroism Theme Icon
...Raina keep her shutters locked. Raina expresses her desire to leave the shutters open, and Louka points out that a bolt is missing so that the windows actually can’t be locked... (full context)
Identity, Authenticity, and Self-Expression Theme Icon
Class Divisions Theme Icon
Louka enters to say that neighbors have seen a man crawling up the water pipe into... (full context)
Act 2
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It is March, 1886. Louka and Nicola, a middle-aged manservant, are in the garden of the Petkoff’s house. Nicola is... (full context)
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Louka agrees she is young, but says she knows secrets about the Petkoffs that could ruin... (full context)
...announces that Major Paul Petkoff, Raina’s father, is back from the war. Nicola quickly tells Louka to fetch coffee, and Louka mutters to herself that Nicola will never put the soul... (full context)
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...made even thinking of “base deeds” impossible. They embrace, and pull apart when they hear Louka coming. Raina says she will go inside to get her hat and then they can... (full context)
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Louka comes outside, and Sergius’s demeanor changes instantly—he becomes mischievous and twirls his mustache. He asks... (full context)
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Sergius agrees. He tries to kiss Louka, and Louka tells him she doesn’t want his affection—he is making love behind Raina’s back... (full context)
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...She says she is sure that if the man ever returns, Raina will marry him. Louka claims she knows the “difference between the sort of manner you and she put on... (full context)
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Louka defiantly responds that she and Sergius are made of the same “clay” and that she... (full context)
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Louka comes into the garden to tell her a Servian officer has arrived and is asking... (full context)
Act 3
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Louka comes in, delivering written messages to Bluntschli. Bluntschli opens one and declares it is bad... (full context)
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Nicola comes in the room, and tries to be affectionate with Louka. She refuses him, and he offers her some of the money Sergius has just given... (full context)
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Sergius examines the bruise that remains on Louka’s arm and asks her if he can cure it. Louka says the opportunity has passed.... (full context)
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...power to be with her. But, he says, he loves another woman, and adds that Louka is simply jealous of Raina. Louka laughs at this and says Raina will marry Bluntschli,... (full context)
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Sergius berates himself, calling himself a coward a liar and a fool. Louka goes to leave, and he tells her she belongs to him. She asks him if... (full context)
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Bluntschli enters as Louka leaves. Sergius confronts him, and challenges him to a duel. Bluntschli amusedly accepts, knowing his... (full context)
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...is dead. Sergius says war and love are both “hollow shams,” and tells Raina that Louka was his informant. Raina responds that what she saw in the garden, from a window... (full context)
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Sergius hears this and in a rage throws the door open and pulls Louka inside. Bluntschli comments that he has eavesdropped before too, but it was justified because his... (full context)
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The rest of the details emerge. Meanwhile, Nicola arrives and admits he and Louka are not engaged, for she does not want him. Bluntschli remarks he would hire Nicola... (full context)
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Catherine enters and sees Sergius and Louka. She asks to know the meaning of this. Sergius says he will marry Louka, and... (full context)